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Barneys New York is 2012 Luxury Retailer of the Year

December 28, 2012


Department store chain Barneys New York is Luxury Daily's 2012 Luxury Retailer of the Year for its focus on emerging channels through which it is enhancing the luxury shopping experience.

The retailer beat out first runner's-up Mr Porter and second runner's-up Harrods by showing remarkable prowess in mobile and social commerce in 2012. Aptitude in innovation, technology, modernity, customer service and experiential marketing brought these retailers to the top of the heap.

"Barneys New York speaks the language of today's customer, using smart marketing, focused retailing and appropriate technology, while not sacrificing the hush of luxury," said Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief of Luxury Daily, New York. "Its body of work for 2012 is worth emulating not just by its peers in luxury retailing, but also brands with the retail channels to support merchandise and marketing.

"Being named Luxury Daily's 2012 Luxury Retailer of the Year is the highest accolade in luxury retail, and Barneys New York is deserving of that appellation," he said.

The Luxury Retailer of the Year award was decided based on luxury retail marketing efforts with impeccable strategy, tactics, creative, execution and results. All candidates selected by the Luxury Daily editorial team had to have appeared in Luxury Daily coverage this year. Judging was based purely on merit.

Neiman Marcus-owned New York department store Bergdorf Goodman was 2011 Luxury Retailer of the Year, with department store chain Bloomingdale's as first runner's-up and online retailer Net-A-Porter as second runner's-up (see story).

Who can resist Barneys?

Barneys enriched the brand experience on digital and mobile mediums throughout 2012. But at the same time, it did not neglect the backbone of luxury retail: the in-store experience.

One major renovation was that of Barneys’ Web site which helped to distinguish it against competitors on the ecommerce scene.

The retailer redesigned its ecommerce site to include a personalized shopping experience and engaging social channel.

Barneys ecommerce site 

The new site features an updated design, different product categories and enhanced product images.

There are five sections that make up the personalized and social components of the site: Favorites, My List, Most Loved, Exclusively Ours and The Window. Users can make shopping lists, share favorites and shop user-recommended products.

The retailer automatically suggests products based on what a user has added to My List (see story).

Product page 

Barneys also took the lead in digital promotions in 2012 through shoppable video.

For instance, the retailer released shoppable digital videos for its Co-Op line for the younger affluent market in lieu of physical mailers and catalogs.

Although Barneys will continue to offer catalogs for other lines, Co-Op’s spring line was completely digital for the first time (see story).

Co-Op  video 

Next, the retailer released its second shoppable video called “Transform the Everyday Black Dress” that featured fashion blogger Geri Hirsch browsing Barneys’ Beverly Hills store.

The video contained direct links to the ecommerce site where consumers could purchase the items featured (see story).

Transform the Everyday Black Dress video still 

A third shoppable video focused on late-night attire and was shared through a dedicated email campaign.

This time, Ms. Hirsch was accompanied by blogger Erin Falconer. The two were filmed in a few different night-appropriate outfits (see story).

Video still 

Mobile motivation
Barneys also solidified its mobile savvy this year through the creation of a responsive HTML5 site.

As the year went on, mobile became an increasingly important medium on which to reach affluent consumers. Therefore, Barneys offers users the same exclusive inventory on its HTML5 site that can be accessed on its Internet site.

The mobile hub aims to make the shopping experience more seamless and lets consumers search, filter, find and purchase items (see story).

Mobile site 

Barneys also used mobile to give in-store shoppers a more personalized checkout experience.

The retailer equipped sales associates with mobile point-of-sale devices at its flagship location during the busy holiday shopping season.

Barneys was one of the first retailers in the United States to use the Infinea Tab modular system that turns an iPad into a one- or two-dimensional bar code scanner and magnetic stripe reader so that sales associates can checkout customers at any location on the sales floor (see story).

What’s in store

Barneys did not overlook the in-store experience in favor of digital efforts this year. Rather, it used digital campaigns to deeper engage consumers in its store happenings.

For example, Barneys unveiled its revamped shoe department July 16 that takes up the entire fifth floor at its New York flagship store on Madison Avenue.

The retailer raised awareness for the new shoe floor by supporting the Human Rights Campaign with shoe purchase proceeds and a Facebook contest (see story).

For its holiday push, Barneys essentially demanded foot traffic from affluent kids-at-heart through a moving art exhibit in its Madison Avenue flagship store windows created under a partnership with Walt Disney Co.

The Electric Holiday campaign centers on an exaggerated fashion show featuring altered Disney characters as models in designer couture. The charters are shown in store windows and an entrance way electric light show (see story).

Additional pieces of the campaign included limited-edition gift items, a charity donation, special holiday shopping bags, an online video, email and site promotions.

Electric Holiday video 

Barneys certainly takes a multichannel approach to its marketing so that the in-store experience is not overlooked but enhanced by digital, social and mobile efforts.

First runner's-up: Mr Porter

Net-A-Porter’s men’s destination Mr Porter drew many affluent eyes to its online-only shopping experience in 2012 through lifestyle efforts that spanned print, mail, events, digital and mobile.

This year, the men’s online retailer created its first iPad application that acts as an interactive magazine and video hub centered on the tuxedo.

The Tux app is split into four chapters that each focuses on a different aspect of wearing a tuxedo.

The app asserts the brand as an authority on black-tie menswear as well as increases mobile transactions through ecommerce links placed throughout the content (see story).

The Tux app 

Mr Porter pushed the iPad app through the November/December issue of its brand newspaper called the Mr Porter Post. The publication is published bimonthly and goes out to Mr Porter customers who sign up for the mailer online.

The 20-page, newspaper-esque also featured gift ideas, editorial content and expert fashion picks for men (see story).

Also, Mr Porter and luxury lifestyle publisher Modern Luxury Media entered into a marketing partnership in 2012 that leverages both brands via print content and events.

The partnership is a multichannel campaign that consisted of both an advertorial series and live events where consumers could experience both brands (see story).

On another note, Mr Porter got attention from affluent males through its fall/winter 2012 campaign called “Style Wherever You Are.”

The campaign was a print and online effort that depicted four global locations and consumers to whom the retailer ships (see story).

Mr Porter ad 

Luxury consumers seek a certain lifestyle when making purchasing decisions. Therefore, Mr Porter supported its merchandise by embodying a certain persona to which its customers could aspire in 2012.

Second runner's-up: Harrods
London department store Harrods upped its marketing strategy in 2012 to include a broader approach so that it could appeal to the global affluent customer.

The retailer enhanced its digital properties so that it could reflect the in-store experience to international consumers. However, it did not abandon its London-based customers and provided them with exclusive in-store opportunities.

One notable digital improvement was the redesign of Harrods’ ecommerce site to feature a more interactive homepage with static scrolling, editorial content and curated items.

The retailer also installed a Favorites tool that lets users create a shopping list.

Harrods looked to engage consumers with more content on its ecommerce site that helps them make purchasing decisions (see story).

Subsequently, Harrods flaunted its site redesign through digital imagery displays.

For instance, the department store boasted its status in both the fashion and food industries through a digital photography campaign that transformed its site into a stylish culinary experience during the month of October.

Harrods featured “Style to Savour” campaign photography shot at its on-site cafes on each section of its ecommerce site’s parallax scrolling homepage and in a food-themed shopping guide (see story).

Style to Savor campaign 

On the store level, Harrods used quite a few tactics to draw affluent consumers.

The department store tapped locals’ affinity for Queen Elizabeth II to market a product line and a series of in-store events to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee (see story).

Additionally, Harrods participated in MasterCard’s Priceless London initiative to give cardholders access to exclusive packages and perks that leveraged its British roots and on-site services.

The retailer offered spa services, tours, dining packages and a discount under its rewards program as part of Priceless London, the MasterCard-created benefits program that coordinates exclusive access to local landmarks and events (see story).

Also, Harrods partnered with Disney to create its 2012 Christmas window display that showed designer dresses inspired by princess characters.

The store revealed its Knightsbridge Road window displays in November that featured Disney princess dresses designed by fashion houses such as Oscar de la Renta, Versace and Elie Saab.

There was also a 7,000-square-foot Disney princess pop-up boutique available only during the holiday season (see story).

Snow White dress by Oscar de la Renta 

Harrods' ability to portray its London heritage and prestige lifestyle at the local and global levels through the most-used channels gave it a boost over other retailers on an international scope.

Final Take
Tricia Carr, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York